Over the next few weeks the Hawks and Al Horford’s agent, Arn Tellem, will work on the terms of a contract extension beyond 2010-11 for Atlanta’s All-Star center.
That’s the money side of the equation, and Horford said negotiations are in the early stages. After considering the other factors that play into his decision, Horford said he would like to stay in Atlanta for the long term.
“How do you see yourself with the team?” Horford said about his thought process. “Do you think the team is going the right way? Obviously, you have to factor in do you like the city you are in, [do you] get along with the guys [teammates]?
“All those things favor me because I feel like we are in a good position. We’ve been playing together. This is my fourth year with the team, and I love the city of Atlanta. So I am just waiting to see what happens with this whole thing.”
Horford is set to make $5.4 million in 2010-11, the final year of his rookie-scale contract. The Hawks have until Nov. 1 to come to terms with Horford on an extension that starts in 2011-12 and can be for up to five years and about $82 million under current CBA rules.
If the sides don’t reach an agreement by then, Horford would become a restricted free agent next summer if the Hawks extend a one-year, $7.1 million qualifying offer by June 30. The Hawks would then retain the right to match any offer sheets signed by Horford.
Hawks GM Rick Sund, citing his policy of not speaking publicly about players’ contracts, declined to comment on negotiations with Horford.
Horford, 24, was the No. 3 overall selection as an early-entrant prospect out of Florida in the 2007 draft. Eastern Conference coaches voted him to his first All-Star team last season and new Hawks coach Larry Drew recently named Horford as a tri-captain along with Joe Johnson and Josh Smith.
This summer Horford, who is undersized by NBA center standards at 6-10 and 245 pounds, said the Hawks needed to add an “impact” center to be a contender in the East. The Hawks ended up signing free agent centers Jason Collins and Etan Thomas to veteran’s minimum contracts.
But Horford said he’s looking forward to Drew’s plan of playing him at power forward alongside Zaza Pachulia, Collins or Thomas.
“I think with Coach Drew’s new mindset, he plans to play me more at the four, which is encouraging to me,” Horford said. “I am happy about that. Obviously I still would like to play center, but if I can spend more time at the four, that would be great.”